Funds stand ready for American energy-water desalination hub

Illustration/Atmocean’s scaled wave energy system capable of producing both clean power, and fresh water from desalination (Photo: Atmocean)

United States’ Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) intends to issue a funding call to establish a hub that will work to advance water desalination methods in order to provide clean and safe water.

On behalf of the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), EERE plans to next month, July 2018, issue a funding opportunity announcement (FOA), with the aim to accelerate transformational advances in science and engineering focused on reducing the energy and cost requirements of desalination.

Illustration/Atmocean's scaled wave energy system capable of producing both clean power, and fresh water from desalination (Photo: Atmocean)

The ‘Energy-Water Desalination Hub’ – the official FOA title – will include highly collaborative research teams, spanning multiple scientific, engineering, and – where appropriate, economic and public policy disciplines.

Marine energy to power desalination

Marine and hydrokinetic technologies (MHK) convert the predictable and forecastable energy of waves, tides, and river and ocean currents into electricity to provide clean and reliable power source.

Additionally, MHK have the potential to provide cost-effective energy for numerous existing distributed and alternate applications in non-grid connected or remote, coastal areas—including military bases and smaller communities – where electricity costs are high.

Desalination of seawater as well as methods for seawater mineral extraction were discussed at a forum dedicated to the alternative uses of marine energy technologies – held late in 2017  – which gathered leading industry panelists who identified the need to increase the number of demonstration tests to validate system integration between desalination devices and MHK technologies.

Atmocean trials its scaled wave system off Peru in 2015 (Photos: Atmocean)

Participants also analyzed factors that make the strongest business case for MHK powered desalinization of seawater such as location, price of water, price of diesel fuel, availability of funding for clean water projects, and pilot projects de-risking the technology for future investment – summary of which were published in a draft report, that was open for public feedback until June 26, 2018.

Strategic R&D investment portfolio with the highest impact

Successful applicants will address key technical focus areas in energy-water desalination and will operate as a coordinated R&D hub of experts across industry, university, and national laboratories, as well as other key stakeholders, according to notice announcing the FOA that will be released on EERE Exchange site.

“The hub will pursue a cohesive, strategic R&D investment portfolio with the highest impact for energy efficiency, water efficiency, and cost reductions to enable achievement of pipe parity of desalination from a range of water sources,” EERE said.

It is anticipated that the FOA may include four technical areas of interest: Materials R&D; New Processes R&D; Modeling & Simulation Tools; and Integrated Data & Analysis.

EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) supports early-stage research to advance innovation in US manufacturing and promote American economic growth and energy security.